Lt. Davis provides the latest in crime updates for West Seattle

With their summer hiatus in the rearview, the West Seattle Crime Prevention Council met on Sept. 17 to discuss far-ranging safety concerns with Seattle Police Southwest Precinct second-in-command Lt. Pierre Davis, who said he’s confident recent property crime spikes will be down for a while with two high-profile arrests made recently.

Before launching into Q and A with the audience, WSCP President Richard Miller asked those in attendance to state where they live and whether their neighborhood feels safer today than it did a year ago. The unanimous answer, while not surprising for people attending a crime prevention meeting, was that things seemed less safe, with more property crime hitting either them personally or their neighbors. One attendee mentioned it could just be that people are more aware of the crime occurring in West Seattle than they’ve been in the past, thanks in large part to a media focus on it.

After the roundtable, a man asked Lt. Davis point blank: Is crime up in West Seattle?

“We are faring a lot better than our other areas in the city,” Davis said. “Predominantly the Southwest has always fared better” because of location, good officers, and a robust block watch community that isn’t afraid to call 911.

Davis said there were some bad spikes over the summer (that stretched beyond West Seattle), including nearly 40 burglaries over seven days in August, but he believes those spikes were due to a couple small, organized, prolific theft groups instead of a large population of thieves hitting West Seattle’s streets. He said some of the bad actors seem to be operating out of unincorporated North Highline.

“Unfortunately, we share a border with Roxbury (St.),” Davis said. “South of Roxbury we have a lot of individuals who are no good over there. Unfortunately, our partners at King County don’t have resources to spend (in North Highline) all the time.”

He said SPD has partnered with the Sheriff’s Office over the summer to share more information and work together in tracking down prolific burglars. Out of that partnership, he said, was an important arrest made recently in North Highline of a man “who is probably responsible for a good half of our burglary spree here in West Seattle.”

“There was another individual who we caught a few weeks ago,” Davis added, saying the man had a small burglary crew that was hitting all across the city, including West Seattle.

Ultimately, those arrests mean little if police can’t put together a case that will stick in court and offenders will be back out on the street in no time. To combat this, Davis pleaded with the community to be willing to testify in court if they are an eyewitness to a crime, and he said it’s surprising how many people are unwilling to do so. That unwillingness, he said, often leads to dropped cases and continued activity from a bad actor that got away even after an arrest. He said it is incredibly rare for those accused to seek revenge on eyewitnesses.

Property crime, especially home burglaries, are most often committed during the day, Monday through Friday, when the rest of us are forced to leave our homes for work, school and the like. Davis said Southwest Precinct Captain Joseph Kessler, in an effort to lower those raters ever further, decided recently to put his anti-crime team on day shifts instead of night shifts so they can focus in on the daytime trend.

“We are going to do an all out frontal attack on these guys,” he said.

Miscellaneous crime notes
Here are some other highlights from the WSCPC meeting (held on the 3rd Tuesday of each month except for July, August and December – 7- 8:30 at the Southwest Precinct community room):

- A group of parents who live near the Hiawatha Playfield of West Seattle High School said the green space is used nearly every afternoon as a place to connect with “customers” by a handful of drug dealers and adults willing to buy/steal alcohol from the nearby Safeway for minors. Davis said he would look into it.

- Others voiced concern that Westwood Village is becoming a popular gang member hangout, including harassment of those not wearing the right colors (because they are not in a gang and don’t think about those things) and attempts to recruit new, young members. One parent said his kids don’t like hanging out at Westwood anymore because they feel it’s dangerous. Davis said gang presence at Westwood seems to go in waves, and that he would send his gang unit down to investigate.

- While liquor theft from grocery stores continues to be a big time problem for those retailers, Davis said his department has been working with their loss prevention staff to reduce numbers. He reported a 12 percent drop in grocery store larceny recently compared to this time last year, shortly after privatized liquor was introduced.

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